GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE
St. John's Military Academy
Located on land that now serves as a parade field at the St. John's Military Academy near Delafield, Wisconsin, the home known as "Rosslynne Manse" once stood as a spooky and foreboding reminder of a family who once lived there... and tales of spirits who haunted the house. The mansion was burned down as part of a fire training exercise in 1981 , but there are many who still recall the tales of the place and some who claim that while the building may be gone.... the spirits still linger behind.
The house had been constructed originally around a massive stone fireplace by Dr. Sidney Thomas Smythe, the former president of the military academy. He had modeled the place after his uncle's Scottish home and even gave it a Scottish name, Rosslynne Manse. Large, spacious porches stretched across the front and rear portions of the house, enclosed by pillars that had been carved from hand-hewn rock. The Smythe family lived on the first two floors of the house and reserved a large room on the third floor as a club house for senior cadets, who often frequented the house. Dr. Smythe insisted on knowing each cadet personally and as many as thirty of them dined in the house each week.Strange events began in the house in 1905 when Mrs. Smythe was walking down a hallway one evening, bound for a large entrance hall that lay off the living room. There were two large windows here and one of them had a rocking chair that faced out to the south. As Mrs. Smythe walked into the room, she noticed something odd about the chair.... that there was a well-dressed, extremely pale man sitting in it. She later recalled that he appeared to be in the last stages of some fatal disease. Then suddenly, the man vanished!
Mrs. Smythe cooly recounted the experience to her family, knowing that their house had not been the first on the property. A family named Ashby had owned a house that rested there previously and Dr. Smythe began searching for an answer to explain his wife's strange sighting. He learned from an old gardener at the Academy that the Ashby family had a son-in-law who had died from tuberculosis. The man's description exactly matched that of the figure in the rocking chair.This would not be the last time that the figure would be seen. Dr. Smythe had his own encounter several years later. On this occasion, he was descending the staircase and saw the man near the front windows again. This time, the figure was standing with his hands clasped behind his back. Smythe's dog, who had accompanied the man downstairs, reacted in terror, growling and cowering in fear. In seconds, the spectral figure vanished.
The former location of the home is now an open field on the military school's campus. The tall trees that once shaded Rosslynne Manse have since vanished, along with any traces of the house itself. The question remains as always.... just where do the ghosts go when the buildings they haunt have been destroyed?
Delafield, Wisconsin is located a short distance west of Milwaukee in the southeast
comer of the state. The abandoned mansion was burned down in 1989 and no trace of it
remains today. It was located on what is now a parade ground of the military academy.
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